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Improving Access for Patients – Key Details for General Practice

Last week we wrote about the government’s latest initiative to deliver a package to support GP practices to deal with the expected winter demands, and also respond to the current media headlines of increasing face to face appointments with patients.

Since the launch we’ve had a chance to have a closer look at some of the finer details of the document and what it will mean for primary care…

Overview

The current media headlines have been inescapable – the Mail is leading the charge in demanding GP’s open their doors, which later changed to ‘increasing face-to-face consultations’ when they realised that practices haven’t actually shut up shop.

On Friday the new ‘Improving Access for Patients and Supporting General Practice” was released, announced by the Health Secretary Sajid Javid on major TV networks with subtle demands that practices increase face to face appointments, or lose out on extra cash and the possibility of “support to improve”, which could include a team from NHSE that will review how many face to face appointments are being carried out in Practices, move services to pharmacists, taking the vaccination programmes away or moving patients to another service.

 Their plan is split into three key areas - Increase and Optimise Capacity, Address Variations and Encourage Good Practice and Zero Tolerance of Abuse and Public Communications. Some of the key points from the document include;

  • Access to additional funding if Practices increase the number of face to face appointments
  • Reducing social distancing to 1m
  • Bank Holiday openings
  • PCNs to recruit more people through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS)
  • Pharmacies to see minor illness cases instead of GPs
  • Moving to digital telephony systems
  • Secondary Care to reduce number of unnecessary work sent to GPs
  • Fit Notes/Sicknotes/DVLA and other certifications to be signed off by more professions, not just GPs
  • Identify practices who aren’t doing enough face to face patient appointments
  • A new Zero Tolerance campaign from NHSE
  • Additional funding for security upgrades in Practices

Practices and PCNs are urged to get patients’ input into preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons not to do so.

Download PDF


INCREASE AND OPTIMISE CAPACITY

This is essentially aimed at ensuring practices are offering more face-to-face consultations - you'll be expected to review levels of face-to-face and remote consultations and improve data reporting quality, a review which should be completed by the end of October.

(No details on how “improving data reporting quality” will be measured).

Includes;
  • NHSE and the Dept of Health have asked the RCGP to review the proportion of face-to-face appointments that GPs are carrying out according to clinical need and patient preferences.
  • A new QOF improvement module that incentivises triage and appointment types
  • NHSE will also work with NIHR to analyse the impact of remote vs face-to-face consultations.

Download PDF


ADDRESS VARIATIONS AND ENCOURAGE GOOD PRACTICE

This is essentially aimed at providing more face to face consultations - Practices are expected to review their levels of face to face and remote consultations and improve their data reporting quality, a review which they should complete by the end of October.

(No details on how “improving data reporting quality” will be measured).

Includes;
  • Reporting on the number of face-to-face appointments delivered
  • Incentivising GP appointment & patient feedback ratings
  • New Data reporting from NHSE on practice performance
  • Identifying the lowest 20% performers in ICS regions

Download PDF


ZERO TOLERANCE OF ABUSE AND PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS

  • NHSE will develop communications tools to help people understand how they can access care in general practice.
  • They will set up a £5m fund for security measures and upgrades that will be distributed via NHS regional teams (approx. £750 per practice)
  • A Zero Tolerance campaign will be launched – no dates identified.
  • Maximum prison sentences for common assault to be doubled to two years if the victim is an NHS worker (not legislation as yet).

Speaking on BBC Breakfast last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that ‘if there are practices that think they might need, for example, CCTV, panic buttons or other kinds of support, then that is available if that’s what they need.’

Download PDF


The BMA have already responded to this, saying that much of these actions are not new, will not provide additional support and that the Government has "increased the risk of general practice failing across entire localities this winter."

Expect to see some more information from NHSE and the Health Secretary in the coming weeks as we come up to the winter period.


Comments

Samantha Rigby 10/11/2021

Hi Yvonne, We are indeed UK wide. This weeks article about Covid Vaccination, for example, is only impacting England, with the devolved administrations choosing not to make vaccination compulsory. Of course if this was different, then our article would not just be about England. We do keep up to date with Scottish issues too, such as our Editor is currently working on a piece about £28m in funding for GP Pharmacists in Scotland. If you would like to discuss this any further please feel free to send me an email at samantha@firstpracticemanagment.co.uk Kind Regards, Samantha First Practice Management

Andrew Moulam 28/10/2021

Of course the cynic in me says we play "the game" .... The face to face data will come from the appointment system downloads not consultation types from within the clinical system .. change the ratios of slot types to reflect the values you want ... pure administrative error if they happen to be wrong ... If everyone changed 75% of all slot types to face to face how long would it be before anyone noticed I wonder.

Yvonne Archibald 27/10/2021

Last week (& this week) you wrote about Westminster's plans for General Practice but what about Scotland, I thought you were a UK wide resource for Practice Managers?


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